Ambulance corps gets a new ride

Anyone who becomes ill or injured in Wilton may well be cared for in a new, state-of-the-art ambulance. The Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps purchased the new $240,000 rig and put it into service Oct. 13.

The truck body is a Ford F550 and the “box” is a 2017 Lifeline Ambulance. Corps president John Miscioscia said there are a number of new features compared to the 2009 model this ambulance replaces.

“It has a liquid spring suspension that is much smoother than the air ride,” he said. It should also be more reliable.

There are three-point seat belts on the bench inside, rails painted yellow for visibility, and room for five people. One of the seats has a built-in car seat for children. If needed, in addition to one person on the stretcher, another person may be taken to the hospital lying down on the bench.

With a paramedic in attendance, the ambulance functions like an emergency room on the go, with a LUCAS chest compression system that is an automatic CPR device, oxygen, supplies for airway management or  trauma, tools for measuring blood pressure and glucose levels, obstetric supplies, and Narcan, the overdose antidote.

What is not new is the Stryker Power Load stretcher the corps kept from its old ambulance. This $20,000 item has a battery-powered hydraulic system that raises and lowers the cot at the touch of a button, making it easier and safer for both EMS workers and patients.

There are also two Stryker stair lifters — one for each of the corps’ two ambulances — donated by the Art Wall Scholarship Foundation. These pieces of equipment enable EMS workers to safely bring a patient down stairs. Designed as a chair, it can go where a stretcher cannot. Treads allow caregivers to bring a patient down stairs without lifting. It also has room for an oxygen bottle.

When not in use, the stair lifter folds up and fits in one of the ambulance’s exterior closets, where it is kept along with backboards and other equipment, although, Miscioscia said, “we don’t use many backboards anymore.”

Another exterior closet holds a large oxygen tank that is used to fill the tanks inside the ambulance.

This ambulance is 12 inches longer than the old one and is four-wheel drive to handle challenging terrain. There are drop-down chains for driving in snow.

Interestingly, the exterior of the ambulance had to pass a state inspector’s review. While the body can be any color, the corps went with a white background and blue lettering. It must say the name of the organization that owns it; thus, it says Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps. It must say “Ambulance” on the side, and on the front of the cab it must say “Ambulance” in reverse letters. The blue stripe on the side must be at least six inches tall; this one is 12 inches. The medical chevron must be on the back.

The ambulance is also equipped with powerful exterior lights. Some are for visibility and some are spotlights to illuminate where EMS responders must work. There are sensors within the ambulance that turn traffic lights green in the direction in which it is traveling.

Who pays?

The ambulance corps maintains two ambulances and tries to keep each one for eight years. “We buy a new one every four years. Every year we put away $60,000 for a new ambulance,” Miscioscia said.

This ambulance was built in Iowa and took four to six months to receive from the time the specs were sent.

The town does not pay for the ambulance. It does pay a portion of the cost of a paramedic fly car Wilton shares with Weston. It also pays for gas for the ambulance and a limited amount of medical supplies.

“We average 1,400 calls a year,” Miscioscia said, most of which come from the town’s several nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. “We rely on billing and donations.”

The corps also must continually recruit new members, Miscioscia said, adding they just lost a few as high school graduates went off to college. Corps headquarters at the town hall campus is staffed by two paid Norwalk Hospital EMTs during the day, Monday through Friday, and by volunteers every night of the week and during the day on weekends.

To support the ambulance, and build a kitty for the next ambulance, the corps sent out its annual appeal letter just last week.

Anyone wishing to make a donation, inquire about membership or ask about another issue may email